Phone: (845) 257-3540
Location: Jacobson Faculty Tower Room 814

The Department of Political Science & International Relations offers majors in Political Science and International Relations that are rigorous and grounded in the liberal arts. Students receive a solid introduction to their fields of study so they can pursue careers, as well as the basic writing, reasoning and communication skills that will enable them to be successful in a wide variety of professions.

Both majors integrate academic rigor with real-world experience, and our faculty support students in achieving their goals. For some, this means graduate or professional schools. For others, the objective is to begin a career. Our students have been accepted into prestigious graduate schools in political science and international relations, as well as leading law schools. Others have worked for the U.S. government in the diplomatic corps, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, the Peace Corps, and other government agencies as well as in the private sector.

In addition to its two majors, the Department of Political Science & International Relations offers minors in Political Science, International Relations, and Law & Politics. Interest in pre-law training, in preparation for law school admissions, and advanced graduate work in law, legal process, and judicial behavior is met with an extensive range of courses within Political Science. A pre-law advisor works with students to prepare them for law school admission.

Also available are several experience-based, credit-bearing options outside of the traditional classroom. Among these are internship programs through which graduates have found positions in state and federal government, industry, media relations, public policy, and communications and journalism.


A departmental honors program allows the department to recognize student excellence in Political Science or International Relations. Student majors who maintain a college GPA and a GPA in Political Science or International Relations of 3.3 may apply to do individual Honors Research (POL491) for 3 credits.  The full department will review the student's final paper, and will determine whether it warrants a recommendation of "Honors in Political Science" or "Honors in International Relations."1

A chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, was established by the department at SUNY New Paltz in 1979 and charter members were inducted in that year. Each year, outstanding eligible undergraduates at New Paltz are invited to join the society.  Membership is open to students, regardless of major, if they meet the following requirements:

  1. completion of at least 60 college credits;
  2. completion of at least 15 credits in Political Science, either at SUNY New Paltz or in transfer;
  3. completion of at least 3 credits of Political Science at the upper-division (300) level;
  4. a GPA of at least 3.3 in Political Science classes, at SUNY New Paltz and at other schools; and
  5. an overall GPA of at least 3.0, at SUNY New Paltz and at other schools.


POL193. Pol Sci Selected Topic. 3-12 Credits.


POL199. Modular Course. 0 Credits.


POL210. The Nature of Political Thinking. 3 Credits.

An introduction to the field of political theory by looking at how some political theorists have discussed fundamental questions of public life such as human nature, freedom, the purpose of politics, democracy, and legitimacy.

POL216. American Govt and Politics . 4 Credits.

Structure and processes of the American system of government and politics. Basic constitutional principles, the theory and practice of representative government, and the organization and function of the political system.

POL220. Athens and Jerusalem: Political Thought in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. 4 Credits.

A consideration of the nature and purpose of political association, human purpose and flourishing, the origins of the state, justice, equality, relations between states, and the relationship between theology, philosophy, and politics.

POL227. Intro International Politics. 4 Credits.

Policies of the great powers and smaller nations, and their relations to each other. Elements of national power and their impact on world affairs.

POL229. Intro to Comparative Politics . 4 Credits.

Study of the major political systems of the world through the use of comparative theories and techniques.

POL293. Political Sci Select Topic. 3-12 Credits.


POL295. Indep Study Political Science. 1-6 Credits.


POL299. Modular Course. 0 Credits.


POL300. Political Science Research Methods. 4 Credits.

Focusing on empirical political science, emphasizing learning by doing, this class explores some of the methods by which political scientists and international relations scholars collect and analyze data.

POL301. State Politics . 3 Credits.

The organization and operation of government and politics in the American States. Fiscal and policy relationships with the national government, in the context of the federal system. Special emphasis on New York State.

POL302. Political Parties and Interest Groups . 3 Credits.

Political parties and interest groups as mediating institutions in American politics, with special focus on their role in nominating and electing public officials and their internal dynamics.

POL303. Campaigns and Elections . 3 Credits.

What decides elections? What do elections decide? We will seek answers to these questions through reading the political science literature carefully and through original research projects, including research on the current elections.

POL305. American Legislative Process . 3 Credits.

Survey of American legislative systems, emphasizing Congress, the state legislatures, and the internal forces and procedures that facilitate or delay the solutions of urgent public problems. Organic political relationships with other institutions of government and within the entire Federal structure.

POL310. Public Management . 3 Credits.

Introduction to the principles and practices of administrative organization and management in government.

POL311. American Environmental Politics . 3 Credits.

Study of current environmental problems and efforts to develop policies to address them through American policy-making process and examination of roles that political actors play in that process.

POL316. American Public Policies . 3 Credits.

Survey of American public policies, contrasting philosophies shaping evolution and evaluations of policy implementation by government. Policies include: business and labor regulation, education, affirmative action, social welfare and security, health and environmental protection.

POL317. The American Judiciary . 3 Credits.

Federal and state courts examined from a political perspective. Federal and state court structure, methods of selection of judicial personnel, aspects of the legal profession as practiced in America that affect judicial decisions, intricacies of court procedure, and personal background characteristics relevant to judicial decisions.

POL318. Local Politics . 3 Credits.

The operation and interaction of cities and suburbs, counties, towns and villages. The workings of public benefit corporations, school districts and other special purpose local governments. Special emphasis on local government in New York.

POL319. Politics and Media . 3 Credits.

This course explores the relationship between the various media, politicians, and government officials. Particular attention is paid to the way the press and legislators, political executives, lobbyists, and members of the legislature interact.

POL320. Protest Movements . 3 Credits.

Examination of the origins, strategies, and outcomes of American protest movements, and major analytic concepts and research methods in the study of movements, through reading, discussion, replication and extension of earlier studies, and original research.

POL323. Sovereigns, Subjects, and the State: Modern Political Thought. 4 Credits.

A survey of major political thinkers from Machiavelli to Nietzsche with emphasis on key concepts like modernity, liberalism, justice, rights, freedom, and the idea of the self.

POL324. International Relations Theory . 3 Credits.

A theoretical examination of the main ideas of several different competing schools of thought within the field of international relations.

POL325. Power, Justification, Discipline:Political Thought in the Twentieth Century. 3 Credits.

Considers Post and Anti-Enlightenment theories of the political in the 20th Century, including readings from Nietzsche, Heidegger, Schmitt, Arendt, Foucault and Agamben.

POL326. Politics and Theater. 3 Credits.

Considers the nature of the relationship between politics and theater through readings of prominent plays and commentaries on theater and the arts by major political thinkers.

POL327. Liberalism and its Critics. 3 Credits.

Examines philosophical underpinnings of contemporary liberal theory as well as significant responses to it including communitarian, conservative and liberatarian thought. Readings include selections from John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, Michael Oakeshott, Michael Sandel and others.

POL329. Political Obligation and Punishment . 3 Credits.

Provides a general acquaintance with two topics in modern political thought: theories of political obligation and the state's power to punish. Additionally, the class will investigate what the potential consequences are for failing to find a justification for political obligation or punishment.

POL331. American Political Thought . 3 Credits.

Origin, development, and nature of theories which have significantly influenced the development of American politics.

POL332. The American Presidency . 3 Credits.

The role of the Federal executive in the American constitutional system, the sources of his power, and the organization of the executive office.

POL334. Film and Politics. 3 Credits.

Examines the social and political implications of documentaries, Hollywood-style, independent, and foreign films.

POL336. Middle Eastern Politics and Institutions . 3 Credits.

Experience of the Middle Eastern countries with Western-type governments and institutions. Interplay of historical, religious, economic, and social factors as they affect the process of westernization and the emergence of nationalism.

POL339. Model United Nations . 3 Credits.

Preparation for participation in Model United Nations simulations around the country. Individual research on the United Nations and cooperative efforts to represent an assigned nation and its foreign policy; to serve on UN committees, such as political affairs, international economics, legal issues, human rights and disarmament.

POL341. Revolution and Counterrevolution . 3 Credits.

Study of the types, causes, and consequences of revolution and counterrevolution in the twentieth century. Particular emphasis on the Russian, Chinese, and Third World revolutions as well as contemporary counterrevolution.

POL342. Politics of Developing Areas . 3 Credits.

Comparative study of the processes, institutions, and issues of political systems in the developing societies of Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Overview course to prepare students for more intensive studies dealing with specific areas.

POL344. Politics of International Economic Organizations . 3 Credits.

The origins, objectives, membership, organizational structure, rules, accomplishments, politics, relations with UN agencies, recent trends and problems, and future prospects of international financial, trade and energy organizations (such as IMF, World Bank, GATT, UNCTAD, OPEC).

POL345. War and International Politics . 3 Credits.

Study of forms, causes and consequences of armed conflict in the international system. Topics to be considered include: military power as a tool of foreign policy, inter-state warfare -- causes and resolution, just war doctrines, civil wars, and international politics, terrorism.

POL346. International Political Economy . 3 Credits.

The course analyzes the political dimensions of international economic relations. Special attention is given to the historical evolution of international political economy, the contending theoretical perspectives, as well as the relationship between governments and business corporations.

POL347. Politics of Environment and Development . 3 Credits.

Focus on domestic and international environmental ramifications of efforts to encourage development in less developed countries. The course evaluates current theories and practices aimed at addressing the tensions between economic development and environmental protection.

POL350. Introduction to Law . 3 Credits.

The legal system and the role of law, systematic examination of the various branches of the law and their historical development; the effects of the law on human activity and the interrelationships of persons.

POL351. Constitutional Law: National Government . 3 Credits.

Analysis of constitutional aspects of the powers of the President, Congress, and the Courts; foreign relations and the war power; federal-state relations; regulation of the national commerce; nationality; elections.

POL352. Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties . 3 Credits.

Analysis of constitutional protections of personal rights and liberties, such as: desegregation, protection against sex discrimination, freedom of expression, privacy, fair trial.

POL353. International Relations of the Americas . 3 Credits.

International political, military, diplomatic and economic relations of the Western hemisphere in the 20th century; US-Latin American relations, especially post-World War II; regional trends of economic restructuring and integration (NAFTA, Andean Pact, MERCOSUR) in the 1980's and 1990's.

POL354. European Politics and Government . 3 Credits.

Comparative study of government and politics under the constitutional systems of Western Europe.

POL355. Criminal Law . 3 Credits.

Statutory basis, constitutional context, and court decisions affecting criminal law, with special focus on New York. Particular attention to legal limits to arrest, search, and interrogation procedures; pre-trial hearings; discovery procedures; and role of defense counsel.

POL356. Sex Discrimination and the Law . 3 Credits.

Study of the legal under-pinnings of sex discrimination in the United States through case law and statutes. Coverage of such topics as employment, credit, rape, the ERA and discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.

POL357. International Law . 3 Credits.

Role of law in international relations. Development, interpretation, and application of legal rules, and legal aspects of major contemporary problems.

POL362. Politics of China and India. 3 Credits.

Comparative study of socio-economic and political development in China and India.

POL363. Chinese Foreign Pol and US . 3 Credits.

Focus on Chinese foreign policy institutions, processes and actors, and their role in foreign policy making. Secondary focus on key foreign policy issues, specifically those influencing US-China relations.

POL364. Nationalism in World Politics . 3 Credits.

The primary objective of this course is to examine the nature of nationalism in world politics: its political basis, ideological composition, security implications, and future.

POL365. International Politics of the Asia-Pacific . 3 Credits.

Twentieth-century foreign policies of and international relations among the U.S., China, Soviet Union, Japan, and Korea, with special emphasis on foreign policy leadership and institutional processes of these countries.

POL366. American Foreign Policy. 3 Credits.

Examination of historical and institutional foundations and applications of American foreign policy.

POL368. Defense Issues in American Foreign Policy . 3 Credits.

Major issues facing the United States in formulating and implementing military policy in the nuclear age. Half the course will focus on nuclear weapons in U.S. foreign policy. The remainder will be on the role of conventional military power in U.S. foreign policy.

POL369. Governments and Politics of China and Japan . 3 Credits.

A study of the contemporary political institutions (governments, parties, interest groups), policymaking processes and public policies of two of the most important world powers, and a brief comparison with the U.S.

POL370. United Nations Semester . 6 Credits.

An intensive examination of the United Nations that involves regular lectures on campus and weekly briefings at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. A total of ten trips to the United Nations are scheduled during the course of the semester.

POL371. Latin American Politics . 3 Credits.

Political dynamics, structures and processes in Latin America. The course examines history and political economy of regions, social structures, coups and military states, revolutionary and nationalist movements, impact of international factors, and transitions to democracy.

POL372. International Relations of the Middle East . 3 Credits.

Foundations of international relations in the Middle East in terms of concepts and realities of international politics. Interstate relations in the region as well as their external relations with the superpowers.

POL373. Russian Politics: Past and Present . 3 Credits.

This course serves as an introduction to politics of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. It has two main objectives: provide students with the background necessary to understand this region and place current changes in a comparative framework.

POL374. Politics of the European Union . 3 Credits.

The course details the essential structures, actors, and processes of the European Union. Special attention is given to its historical background and institutional structure, as well as its foreign, economic, and social policies.

POL379. Women in Politics . 3 Credits.

Why are there so few women in political office, in the U.S., and other parts of the world? Would more women in politics make a difference to public policymaking, or to international relations? This course comparatively considers barriers and opportunities for women in politics globally.

POL384. State Politics Semester . 5 Credits.

Full-time internship in Albany with state legislator, administrative agency, or political party leader to carry out tasks of internship supervisor. Academic requirements include seminar participation, weekly papers, daily journal, and related book reviews.

POL390. Junior Seminar in Political Science. 4 Credits.

An examination of a major theme in a subfield of Political Science, a preparation for the senior seminar. Students will practice good research habits, learn appropriate seminar etiquette, and develop a research project.

POL393. Pol Sci Selected Topic. 3-12 Credits.

POL399. Modular Course. 0 Credits.


POL401. Seminar in American Government and Politics . 4 Credits.

Study of major issues in American government and politics. Students will present a major research paper to the seminar by the end of the course.

POL403. Seminar in Comparative Politics . 4 Credits.

Study of the major issues in Comparative Politics. Students will present a major research paper to the seminar by the end of the course.

POL404. Seminar in International Relations . 4 Credits.

Study of the major contributions of classical and contemporary thinkers in the field of International Relations. Students will present a major research paper to the seminar by the end of the course.

POL405. Seminar in Political Theory . 4 Credits.

An examination of significant issues, figures, and concepts in political theory. Students will develop and present a major research paper by the end of the course.

POL406. Seminar in Law . 4 Credits.

Advanced seminar in law. The purpose is to strengthen and expand the student's knowledge of law, the legal system and the judicial process in order to investigate critically and timely issues at the intersection of law and politics. A major research paper is required.

POL480. Government Internship . 9-15 Credits.

Provides students with an integrated academic work experience in a government or administrative agency for a semester. Possible positions include state legislature, United States Congress, police agencies, planning units, newspapers, and radio stations. Students work a minimum of 40 hours per week in close cooperation with political leaders and officials and participate in a weekly academic seminar. Interns are required to do a large amount of assigned reading, maintain a comprehensive journal, and submit weekly reaction papers. Instructors hold frequent individual conversations with interns as well as the agency supervisors. Students are allowed to register for no more than 15 academic credits while participating in the program.

POL481. Government Fieldwork I . 3 Credits.

Taken in conjunction with POL480.

POL482. Government Fieldwork 2. 3 Credits.


POL484. State Politics Semester . 15 Credits.

Full-time internship in Albany with state legislator, administrative agency, or political party leader to carry out tasks of internship supervisor. Academic requirements include seminar participation, weekly papers, daily journal, and related book reviews.

POL485. Legislative Gazette . 6 Credits.

Full-time internship in Albany producing the Legislative Gazette.

POL491. Honors Research . 3 Credits.

Research in primary sources under the direction of a faculty member. Recommendation of faculty member and approval of departmental honors committee for honors in political science.

POL493. Polit Sci Selected Topic. 3-12 Credits.


POL494. Fieldwork In Political Science. 1-12 Credits.


POL495. Indep Study Political Science. 1-12 Credits.